Monday, 12 March 2007

My Generation

Well, not mine, actually. I'm in my late forties and certainly don't 'hope to die before I get old'. I'm talking about the recent graduates and other young people in their early twenties currently entering the workforce.

Personally I've been using 'social software' in the form of discussion forums (mainly for my hobby of motorcycling) for about six years. I'm old enough and ugly enough to have become a fairly hardened sceptic about the possibility of such apparently trivial activities taking hold in an enterprise. But the younger generation are not. It's reasonable to guess that many of them have presences online, in the form of MySpace sites and so on, and that they may expect similar facilities inside their employer's firewall. I'm not the only person to think this (not surprisingly). Euan Semple, for example, has made the point in his recent, minimalist post on the subject. But one or two recent discussions with people trying to 'do KM' inside organisations bear this out, and it makes me optimistic.

Why? Because, for the younger set, at least, you can sweep aside all the usual issues about how hard it will be to break habits, change the culture, etc. Just build and they will come. These young people also tend to be eager to show how knowledgeable they are, as they thrust their way up the hierarchy. At least that is what I was told by an information manager at one of the Big Four accountancy firms the other week. This, too, is helpful: it's a driver for content.

This all sounds very positive. Just set up the software, tell the twenty-somethings about it, and off you go. But is that the biting of nails I hear in HR and legal departments, as the prospect of MySpace-style material appearing all over the corporate intranet?

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